The Aurora Welcome Center was just coming together when I was hired as the Executive Director in January 2015. Being a start-up, we knew a simple but engaging website was necessary to get our information out to the public and other service providers. We also realized that it was critical to have an online representation of our center in order to establish our credibility with the community.
AWC’s mission is to strengthen our community through the intentional integration of immigrants and refugees. We do this by ensuring access to needed services, providing a place of safety and belonging, and engaging immigrants and refugees as agents of positive change in our community. Much like our shared space, the website is intended to have active collaboration from the partners in some form. The process of developing our site required input from all partners. Maintaining it and ensuring that it stays relevant will also be a collaborative process.
It was also important to us that we be able to manage and update the website in-house. We went with a very simple platform and design in order to meet this goal. Information in a shared space is very fluid, and changes quickly because so many partners are involved. Keeping web content editing in-house allows for us to maintain control and respond quickly to new information.
Active collaboration from the partners means that you will have plenty of content, but you can also be overwhelmed very quickly. It was also important for us to establish a plan for managing content. For our space, it was agreed that I would function as the gatekeeper for the website. This makes it much easier to control the flow of information from the partners into the website, and from the website out to the community. This also means that I can maintain some balance of information being shared from each partner in our space.
Another important part of our implementation planning was to develop expectations about the kinds of content we want for the website, and provide partners with clear expectations about the format. Sharing and updating information on the AWC’s page is often one more to-do on our partners’ lists, so we wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to provide content – as well as easy on my end to upload it. Our website is still a work in progress, but we believe we have a good foundation. Moving forward we will keep developing it with interns and volunteers. You can visit our website at www.aurorawelcome.org.